The Soft-on-Crime Roots of British Disorder

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 1:11 PM GMT
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903918104576502613435380574.html

    By JOYCE LEE MALCOLM

    As wild gangs of youths burned homes, shops and cars and severely beat anyone who tried to stop them last week, English people tried to defend themselves. Their desperation triggered a 5,000% increase in purchases of baseball bats from Amazon.

    [...] Victims of aggression who defend themselves or attempt to protect their property have been shown no such leniency. Burglars who injured themselves breaking into houses have successfully sued homeowners for damages. In February, police in Surrey told gardeners not to put wire mesh on the windows of their garden sheds as burglars might hurt themselves when they break in.

    If a homeowner protecting himself and his family injures an intruder beyond what the law considers "reasonable," he will be prosecuted for assault. Tony Martin, an English farmer, was sentenced to life in prison for killing one burglar and wounding another with a shotgun during the seventh break-in at his rural home in 1999. While his sentence was later reduced to five years, he was refused parole in 2003 because he was judged a danger to burglars.

    In 2008, a robber armed with a knife attacked shopkeeper Tony Singh in West Lancashire. During the struggle the intruder was fatally stabbed with his own knife. Although the robber had a long record of violent assault, prosecutors were preparing to charge Mr. Singh with murder until public outrage stopped them.

    [...] The ban on handguns did not stop actual crimes committed with handguns. Those crimes rose nearly 40%, according to a 2001 study by King's College London's Center for Defence Studies, and doubled by a decade later, according to government statistics reported in the London Telegraph in October 2009.

    Knives? It's illegal for anyone under age 18 to buy one, and using a knife for self-defense is unlawful. In 1991, American tourist Dina Letarte of Tempe, Ariz., used a penknife to protect herself from a violent attack by three men in a London subway. She was convicted of carrying an offensive weapon, fined, and given a two-year suspended sentence.

    The result of policies that punish the innocent but fail to deter crime has been stark, even before the latest urban violence. The last decade has seen a doubling of gun crime. According to the latest annual report of the Home Office (2009), there was a 25% increase in crimes involving contact, such as assault and battery, over the previous year.

    The Conservative government came to power pledging to end the police "caution culture" and permit more scope for self-defense. But old habits die hard. The Conservative recommendation in December 2009 to permit householders to use any force "not grossly disproportionate" against an intruder was described in the Guardian newspaper as "backward and barbaric."


    Malcolm's bio: Ms. Malcolm, professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, is the author of "Guns and Violence: The English Experience" (Harvard, 2004) and "To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right" (Harvard, 1996).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 1:23 PM GMT
    Wow. So a pro-gun lunatic with a PhD believes that Britain should use guns to suppress political dissent?

    Who would have seen that coming? icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 1:44 PM GMT
    Christian73 saidWow. So a pro-gun lunatic with a PhD believes that Britain should use guns to suppress political dissent?

    Who would have seen that coming? icon_lol.gif


    Wrong again Christian. A scholar who points out that it is ridiculous not to allow people to defend themselves with anything in the UK - and that as a result leaves citizens defenseless when it matters.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 1:48 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidWow. So a pro-gun lunatic with a PhD believes that Britain should use guns to suppress political dissent?

    Who would have seen that coming? icon_lol.gif


    Wrong again Christian. A scholar who points out that it is ridiculous not to allow people to defend themselves with anything in the UK - and that as a result leaves citizens defenseless when it matters.


    Or, more likely, it demonstrates that it is unwise to cut the police force at the same time as your eviscerating public services in order to maintain or grow tax breaks for affluent and wealthy citizens. Someone might get angry.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:04 PM GMT
    The shopkeepr in 2008? Really?

    Here's what really happened. Read the whole thing, please.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1580074/Shopkeeper-who-killed-robber-wont-face-trial.html

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:04 PM GMT
    Christian73 said
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidWow. So a pro-gun lunatic with a PhD believes that Britain should use guns to suppress political dissent?

    Who would have seen that coming? icon_lol.gif


    Wrong again Christian. A scholar who points out that it is ridiculous not to allow people to defend themselves with anything in the UK - and that as a result leaves citizens defenseless when it matters.


    Or, more likely, it demonstrates that it is unwise to cut the police force at the same time as your eviscerating public services in order to maintain or grow tax breaks for affluent and wealthy citizens. Someone might get angry.


    That those who are unhappy can throw temper tantrums with impunity has more than a little to do with this. Question for you - if you were attacked would you defend yourself?

    Whenever you wean those living off the tit of the taxpayers people are bound to be unhappy (and it's not even about eliminating benefits, it's reducing them). But that's what elections are for. But I'd forgotten, you don't respect any elections that don't have outcomes you agree with. As for the police force? Do you happen to know what cuts have been made to date since they've been proposed?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:06 PM GMT
    meninlove said The shopkeepr in 2008? Really?

    Here's what really happened. Read the whole thing, please.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1580074/Shopkeeper-who-killed-robber-wont-face-trial.html



    Did you miss the part where he was charged in the first place - that there are laws effectively restricting self defense? Read the original post please.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:20 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    meninlove said The shopkeepr in 2008? Really?

    Here's what really happened. Read the whole thing, please.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1580074/Shopkeeper-who-killed-robber-wont-face-trial.html



    Did you miss the part where he was charged in the first place - that there are laws effectively restricting self defense? Read the original post please.



    So you think the law should have just taken his word that it was self defense?


    You should read this article.

    " Police arrested Mr Singh on suspicion of murder and questioned him for several hours."

    and then, of course the very first line, "A shopkeeper who stabbed an armed robber to death in a desperate struggle to defend himself wept with relief after learning that he will not be charged."

    He wasn't charged.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:23 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    riddler78 said
    meninlove said The shopkeepr in 2008? Really?

    Here's what really happened. Read the whole thing, please.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1580074/Shopkeeper-who-killed-robber-wont-face-trial.html



    Did you miss the part where he was charged in the first place - that there are laws effectively restricting self defense? Read the original post please.



    So you think the law should have just taken his word that it was self defense?


    You should read this article.

    " Police arrested Mr Singh on suspicion of murder and questioned him for several hours."

    and then, of course the very first line, "A shopkeeper who stabbed an armed robber to death in a desperate struggle to defend himself wept with relief after learning that he will not be charged."

    He wasn't charged.



    From the original quoted article (my bad in using the word "charged") - "In 2008, a robber armed with a knife attacked shopkeeper Tony Singh in West Lancashire. During the struggle the intruder was fatally stabbed with his own knife. Although the robber had a long record of violent assault, prosecutors were preparing to charge Mr. Singh with murder until public outrage stopped them."
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:28 PM GMT
    Examples of the public outrage and the statement from CPS saying they were bowing to public pressure, please. I did some detective work; you haven't.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:31 PM GMT
    meninlove said Examples of the public outrage and the statement from CPS saying they were bowing to public pressure, please. I did some detective work; you haven't.


    I fail to see your point. Your detective work disproved nothing. Not only was that not the only example but it was a highly publicized case as even your article you linked suggests.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:33 PM GMT

    "I fail to see your point."


    That's fine; others will.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 2:36 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    "I fail to see your point."

    That's fine; others will.


    Lol - not if they care to read.
  • kew1

    Posts: 1595

    Aug 18, 2011 3:05 PM GMT
    Tony Martin was convicted of murder (later reduced to manslaughter) because he shot the burglar in the back. If the burglar had been coming towards him he would have been much less likely to have been convicted.

    It's odd that the laws controlling knives & guns came in under Conservative (right of centre) governments (Macmillan1959, Thatcher1988, Major1997 were PMs at the time).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 4:06 PM GMT
    kew1 saidTony Martin was convicted of murder (later reduced to manslaughter) because he shot the burglar in the back. If the burglar had been coming towards him he would have been much less likely to have been convicted.

    It's odd that the laws controlling knives & guns came in under Conservative (right of centre) governments (Macmillan1959, Thatcher1988, Major1997 were PMs at the time).


    Not that odd. There are many conservatives who believe in social control and the supremacy of government when it comes to law and order and social issues - but that group is dwindling fast in the face of reality/events.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 4:10 PM GMT
    kew1 saidTony Martin was convicted of murder (later reduced to manslaughter) because he shot the burglar in the back. If the burglar had been coming towards him he would have been much less likely to have been convicted.

    It's odd that the laws controlling knives & guns came in under Conservative (right of centre) governments (Macmillan1959, Thatcher1988, Major1997 were PMs at the time).



    Bingo.

    As well, the burglar killed was 16 and unarmed. Is the law to blame? Yes, for not keeping the 16 year old in custody prior to this incident as he had 29 previous convictions for theft etc. However the conservative push was to keep incarceration costs down.


    Here's a conservative article from 2010, where the Labour party is blamed for keeping people like the 16 year old locked up.

    " The last significant drop in prison numbers was under Margaret Thatcher, who was bored by crime and gave her home secretaries free rein. David Cameron, who has teetered between hugging hoodies and embracing prison ships has, so one friend says, reverted to the less punitive approach demanded by the prison governors and probation officers who are begging Mr Clarke to abandon a £4 billion prison-building programme and to dump sentences of less than 12 months. The Justice Secretary should not stop there.
    One of the most iniquitous mistakes of the Labour years was the IPP (imprisonment for public protection) sentence, allowing an extraordinarily wide range of offenders to be held indefinitely. Introduced in 2003 and amended when its defects became clear, the sentence is a travesty of justice. Offenders must take courses to qualify for release, but places on them are often non-existent. Even if they do manage to get a Parole Board hearing, many cannot prove, beyond any shadow of doubt, that they are "safe".
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/maryriddell/7859667/Our-prison-system-is-a-travesty-and-a-ruinous-waste-of-money.html
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Aug 18, 2011 7:17 PM GMT
    In the last few decades Britain has managed to achieve the seemingly impossible:the harshest criminal law and practice(compared to Europe),the highest per capita police numbers,and yet the highest crime rates and prison population on the continent.
    In this country people go to prison for not having a television licence!
    Also study Victorian Britain if you think tough criminal law and practice deter crime!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2011 9:37 PM GMT
    Lincsbear saidIn the last few decades Britain has managed to achieve the seemingly impossible:the harshest criminal law and practice(compared to Europe),the highest per capita police numbers,and yet the highest crime rates and prison population on the continent.
    In this country people go to prison for not having a television licence!
    Also study Victorian Britain if you think tough criminal law and practice deter crime!


    Here are the facts cited by Ms. Malcolm - am curious if you disagree with any of them:

    Great Britain's leniency began in the 1950s, with a policy that only under extraordinary circumstances would anyone under 17 be sent to prison. This was meant to rehabilitate young offenders. But the alternative to incarceration has been simply to warn them to behave, maybe require community service, and return them to the streets. There has been justifiable concern about causes of crime such as poverty and unemployment, but little admission that some individuals prefer theft to work and that deterrence must be taken seriously.

    Victims of aggression who defend themselves or attempt to protect their property have been shown no such leniency. Burglars who injured themselves breaking into houses have successfully sued homeowners for damages. In February, police in Surrey told gardeners not to put wire mesh on the windows of their garden sheds as burglars might hurt themselves when they break in.

    [...] Meanwhile, the cost of criminal justice has convinced British governments to shorten the sentences of adult criminals, even those guilty of violent crimes, and to release them when they have served half of their sentence. Police have been instructed by the British Home Office to let burglars and first-time offenders who confess to any of some 60 crimes—ranging from assault and arson to sex with an underage girl—off with a caution. That means no jail time, no fine, no community service, no court appearance.

    In 2009, 70% of apprehended burglars avoided prison, according to British Ministry of Justice figures. The same year, 20,000 young offenders were electronically tagged and sent home, a 40% increase in the number of people tagged over three years.

    All sorts of weapons useful for self-defense have been severely restricted or banned. A 1953 law, the "Prevention of Crime Act," made any item someone carried for possible protection an "offensive weapon" and therefore illegal. Today there is also a list of devices the mere possession of which carries a 10-year sentence. Along with rocket launchers and machine guns, the list includes chemical sprays and any knife with a blade more than three inches long.


    Perhaps the title of the article was overreaching in some sense - that there are some petty offences where the punishments seem absurdly disproportionate to the crimes but then there are the apparent plethora of instances were criminals of crimes like burglary and any crime by youth are treated with a great deal of leniency.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 20, 2011 1:20 PM GMT
    More here - "Why Work? Welfare addiction in handout hungry UK"

  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Aug 20, 2011 4:23 PM GMT
    Any simplistic, one-size-fits-all explanation of the riots is useless at best, and counter-productive at best. I don't pretend to have the answers - I suspect that there are actually many, all valid - but a leader in today's Guardian looks at some of the actual complexities:


    [url]http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/19/sad-society-young-riots
    [/url]

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 21, 2011 1:32 PM GMT
    tazzari saidAny simplistic, one-size-fits-all explanation of the riots is useless at best, and counter-productive at best. I don't pretend to have the answers - I suspect that there are actually many, all valid - but a leader in today's Guardian looks at some of the actual complexities:


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/19/sad-society-young-riots



    I think most of us can agree on the root problem - but disagree on their causes - from your linked article:

    Let's reprise where cuts have fallen hardest. Nearly a million young unemployed, a shocking one in five out of work, rises to more than 30% in places like Middlesbrough. The young will suffer for it all their lives, as research shows most never regain their footing, destined to a life in and out of low-paid work. Connexions, the service that picks up the lost and gives careers advice to all is cut to shreds: over 30% cut already, professionals replaced with cheaper staff. Just when young people most need help on what school subjects to take, on BTecs, HNDs and apprenticeships, the government is replacing careers advice with an online service, with no one to question their choices and prod them forwards. The disastrous abolition of the educational maintenance allowance will make many wrongly opt out altogether. Add in the future trouble stored up in the cuts to Sure Start, teen pregnancy prevention, anti-gang or other early interventions and prospects look bleaker still.


    There are really three problems to parse here:

    (1) that these idiots think they are therefore somehow justified in rioting - and as a corollary those like her who seem to justify if not want to appease these supposed wrongs - that society somehow owes them jobs or help or training.

    (2) the presumption that government is in the best position to reduce youth unemployment or that the spending they do as they have in the past will somehow reduce unemployment despite its dismal past track record. What's that they say about insanity and doing more of the same? And seriously, are the youth in the world so stupid that they can't figure out themselves what professions they can and should do that will be valuable to the world?

    (3) The lack of a strong "castle law" that allows individuals to protect themselves and their property and the presumption that government will be there unlike their ineffectiveness during the riots.